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Debt clearance talks on despite US disengagement

THE United States, through its embassy in Harare, has decided to disengage from participation in Zimbabwe’s debt resolution and clearance programme and the round of negotiations resuming next month.

US Chargé d’Affaires Ms Elaine French, in a video broadcast, indicated her government’s decision to temporarily walk away in protest over the outcome of the August 2023 harmonised general elections won by Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa over the US’ preferred candidate and opposition CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa.

The move has been interpreted by political analysts as an attempt to attack Zimbabwe’s credibility as a sovereign State, an attempt to discredit the re-engagement policy and exposes the underlying relations between the US and the opposition CCC.

Zimbabwe, in arrears on servicing its debt, is engaging development partners to clear outstanding amounts to multilateral development institutions, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank.

Ms French said her government wanted Zimbabwe to institute what she termed “reforms especially when it comes to elections”.

However, Government is already focusing on next month’s crucial round of high-level talks as it pursues avenues to clear its international debt and unlock fresh sources of capital. Three technical committees have also been set up to steer the negotiations.

The significance of these negotiations remain a priority following British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Peter Vowles’ X (formerly Twitter) post on Saturday which highlighted that the Government of Zimbabwe’s plans for arrears clearance and measures to attract investment.

Said Ms French: “The Government of Zimbabwe committed to taking up reforms. We really haven’t seen those statements translating to action especially when it comes to elections.

“We did not see those reforms before, during and after elections. The United States Embassy has decided to press pause on our involvement in the AfDB Dialogue.”

Yesterday, political analysts told The Herald that the decision by the US government to pause their participation in the negotiations was one part of a strategy to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and open subtle interferences in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs.

“The US has a methodical way to blackmail countries that it wants to befriend but which cannot be cowed into submission. This pause is something that was expected because from the US’ standpoint, everything has to go according to its dictates.

“This explains the idea that as long as the US is involved in these negotiations, it will likely arm-twist the creditors to make its position accepted even at the expense of damaging relations,” said Mr Edmore Muchatibaya.

Another political analyst Mr Given Mwaramwidze raised elements of collusion between the US government and CCC leader Mr Chamisa to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes especially when outcomes did not fulfill their expectations.

Said Mr Mwaramwidze: “The goal of the USA and its opposition proxy led by Mr Chamisa is to undermine Zimbabwe’s internal democratic purposes. This is a ploy to try and make Zimbabwe a pariah State and sideline it from benefitting from global processes where it should benefit from both bilateral and multilateral interdependence.”

Zimbabwe’s Structured Dialogue Platform is spearheaded by former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano as the high-level facilitator and the detailed talks are led by AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Herald

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